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News ::
Anatomy of Riot Control
18 Feb 2002
Modified: 07:33:49 PM
A description of police action and methodology on the spontaneous "riots" that took place after the Super Bowl.
The event that set of the masses to the streets was fairly simple. An underdog team with patriotic connotations, indeed within the name itself, won the greatest prize in American sport. A great many masses thus poured out onto the streets of Boston, numbering many thousands throughout the city, all who felt with great joy the fervor of their vicarious victory. Many thousand more drove their cars along the streets honking their horns for every inch they past, while their passengers wailed out the windows screaming to the glorious victory of their team.

I came to a place of abundent action after having seen groups of dozens of people at each intersection, standing in the middle of intersections waving banners over cars as they passed by, stopping cars and jumping on them in a jubilant way, with no offense whatever to the driver, who in turn harderly shook hands with many a rejoicer. I found the nexus of this activity within a heart of college furvor, the intersection of Harvard & Brighton Avenue. The mass had by this time completely occupied the intersection, numbering a couple hundred participants. About 10 cops were on the scene, and traffic was being diverted by police cars 100 meteres distant blocking the roads to the intersection.

What captured my overwhelming attention were the actions of the police, and their relations to the protestors. There existed a core group of instigators in this entirely unorganised mass, while the majority of people seem detached by the looks upon their faces, acting as mere participants, mere passers-by, who lack both the totality of impartial observation but also attachment to the event. Most are thus wandering, somewhat listlessly, with looks of general amusement on their faces. The instigators drive the mass to the light -- and it is this group who starts the chants, they start the vicacious singing. Yet, lacking a *real* solidarity of feeling, each proposition of fevour goes unanswered by the mass. Besides the victory, the only other thing they have in common is this action. Action in defiance becomes their common language. For when the shopping cart with burning contents drives into the middle of the mass at the intersection, the attention of the mass becomes more focused for quite some time.

The police slowly gather in strength, and stand in lines of various strengths on each street: guarding the path further downtown stood 10 cops shoulder to shoulder, as if an immovable wall. The street directly across saw a slightly reduced presence, and seemed to be the coordinating center of all police activity. On the third Street to the left was yet a smaller contingent, while down the last street, which led to a hub of public transit, only three officers stood, maintaining a weak and at times entirely nonexistent presence.

When their strength was sufficient, and the mass had some time to reveal the climbing flames, the police set out to divide and conquer. They first targeted the weakest section of the mass within the intersection, and they work their way into this part of the mass, slowly dividing it. They walk quietly, without fuss, as if they too are a part of the mass, weaving within the crowd. They begin directing people to get on the sidewalk. They are masters of crowd control. Step-by-step, they do their methodical work, and, they do it patiently, confidently, and quickly. These are the actions of police who feel some solidarity with this mass, who clearly have some respect for the ongoing. In this slow and forceful way, the cops establish one area of control, dividing the intersection in half, and for a moment they allow traffic to momentarily pass through that section. Then they cut off the traffic as they would a water tap, and swarm within that half of the intersection they control, patrolling the area as a DMZ.

Police then move into the other side of the intersection and began driving into the mass like the prongs of a fork. Inward. They again move among the mass with a calm manner, but with stern dictation to get onto the sidewalk. Here, a firefighter is dispatched with a container of water to put out a blazing trash can while a comrade stands by his side looking out for him. Everyone, from the police to the mass, give full respect of the press, not paying me attention, but giving me the way to be close to what happens without asking me any questions. All of this leverage they give me by my pen, scribbling away at a feverish pace. Oblivious that this pen breathes in the hand of a Revolutionary! What weapon is more dangerous?

Once the cops have established control over the intersection, several homeless people begin collecting garbage, immediately swarming in among the police officers like vultures, picking up the many beer cans and bottles left by the mass. What else can happen in a depraved society? Such is the jungle of any American city we live, such is the life cycle of a spontaneous mass gathering. As the intersection resumes full operation, boisterous cars with passengers flailing out the window pass the cops, who stand idlely by, now in control of the ebb and flow.

These police tactics show that movement is the most quintessential aspect of making a social protest work. Being stationary within a protest such as this, if not intended to disrupt things in a most definite way, spells certain doom. The stationary mass is easy to surround by an overly abundant police force, and being stationery without much to do, action is contained and limited, in some ways in fact can only manifest in singular purpose. Thus, it is necessary for the agitators' of such an event to move people, especially those who are unorganised, from one intersection to another in the most shiftless way possible. They must try to mind people that occupying any one intersection is not a victory, but in fact the task at hand is to occupy and disrupt as many different intersections as possible. In this way the act of the agitator is to outmaneuver the cop, using the very disorganisation of the mass to our advantage.
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i love football, ice cold beer, and america
18 Feb 2002
breathes in the hand of a revolutionary?? what are you, a pansy? why don't you chug a beer and have some pride in the hometown team.... GO PATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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